Monday, December 06, 2004

The Leaning Ivory Tower of Academia?

"Those Poor College Conservatives"

It appears that left-wing columnist Ellen Goodman finds the charge that the ivory towers of academia are in the stranglehold of "progressive" ideologues is a total canard. In her latest WaPo column, Ms. Goodman attempts to dispel this "myth." Unfortunately for her case, she uses specious argumentation, situational relativism and snarkiness to make her point. She also ignores anecdotal, statistical and empirical data which contradicts her assertions.
The column starts with this:
"I like the old maxim that academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small. How else to explain the intramural conflicts that erupt over such searing campus issues as tenure and parking?"
Yes, Ms. Goodman, that is very cute. And it is also a well know tactic used in argumentation to marginalize the opposing side's thesis. It is also used to minimize the validity and even necessity of their argument. Not very sporting of you.
She goes on:
"Conservatives have long regarded universities as the last spider holes of liberalism. They regard professors as lefty holdouts who spend their days indoctrinating the younger generation on the virtues of Che Guevara."
Well, Ms. Goodman, I suggest that you peruse some university course catalogues and take a look at some of the "progressive" dribble that is being "taught" to our impressionable youth. Since you mention Che, here are just a few Googled examples for you:

"Revolution and Reform in Latin America" at Pomona College


"Talking Back to Icons: Latin@ Artistic Expression" at UMASS

And dont miss this Che lovefest at UCLA.

Ad infinitum on Che. All pro-Che.
Now Ms. Goodman is good enough to quote from a couple of recent studies which delve into the political affiliation of college professors:
"There is now more ammunition for the battle of the intellectual bulge. Two new studies point to campuses as oases of blue. The first, a survey of 1,000 academics, shows that there are seven Democrats for every Republican in the humanities and social sciences. The D-R ratio is 30 to 1 in anthropology and even 3 to 1 in economics. A second study of voter registration records shows that Democrats outnumber Republicans 9 to 1 on the faculties at Berkeley and Stanford. And as a side dish, the Center for Responsive Politics reports that the biggest donors to John Kerry's campaign were employees from the University of California and from Harvard. All of this adds to the complaint that conservatives are as marginalized on campus as synchronized swimmers. This in turn is used to back up complaints about discrimination in hiring and teaching, and the need for what is called ideological diversity."
However, she doesn't seem to believe that this necessarily translates into the pushing of left-wing ideology in the classroom:
"These surveys don't actually prove that one-party faculties color the classrooms blue. Nor do they prove that students are being wooed leftward."
Well, Ms. Goodman, I'm not sure whether your head is just buried in the sand or if you are dissembling here. (I think I can guess which) The following is from page one of a Google search of "college professor activists":
From the website of Common Dreams:
"With textbooks called 'Don't Just Stand There, Do Something' and courses on 'active nonviolence' taught by professors who have been on the front lines of social causes as far back as the civil rights struggle, about 300 peace studies programs exist at more than 250 colleges nationwide. They bring issues like hunger and inequality into the classroom, and we encourage them in ways they can get active. Peace studies, according to many of its practitioners and students, is more than just Protesting 101. But with a deep stress on acting upon what they've learned, many students take part in local activist groups and demonstrations."
"Michael Andregg, a St. Thomas adjunct justice and peace studies professor, said the school's peace program is partly an outgrowth of an increased desire among older activists to invest in youngsters and pass the torch." (Emphasis mine)
And if that is not enough Ms. Goodman, again from that first Google page, check out these activist professors:
Prof. Michael Ugarte, MU
Prof. Agha Saeed, UC Berkeley
Prof. Joan Berezin, Vista College
Prof. Andy Silverman and Prof. Mark Homan, U. of Arizona
ad infinitum on activist college professors.

Arizona Daily Wildcat
University of Arizona professors Andy Silverman and Mark Homan

Please don't be so disingenuous as to assert that you truly believe that these professors don't bring their ideology into the classroom. You are showing disrespect for your readers and your arrogance with that avowal.

And I could fill a hundred blogs with all the leftist courses that are being offered at a college near you. Since this post is getting rather lengthy, I will limit myself to this cute little number that I just stumbled across when googling for Che. It is the ne plus ultra of representations for moonbat courses.
"The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie: Race and Popular Culture in the United States"

Course Description: "Have you ever said or thought “I don’t look like a Barbie!” Join the crowd. However, the problem that Barbie presents is infinitely more complex than her supposed life-sized measurements. As the embodiment of complex discourses on race, sex and gender Barbie provides a central figure for this course in exploring broader themes, particularly those of race and social justice. Thus, we will cover a wide territory that ranges from an exploration of the ways in which scientific racism has been put to use in the making of Barbie to an interpretation of the film The Matrix as a Marxist critique of capitalism. You’ll never play with your toys the same way again."

Now they are trying to transmogrify one of my favorite movies; The Matrix. The bastards!

Ms. Goodman goes on:

"Still, I find the attention to campus politics rather charming. The only ones who take universities as seriously as universities take themselves are activists on the right."

Your condescension is not charming Ms. Goodman.

"What is fascinating, however, is to see how the campus-watchers have usurped the language of liberalism for their own. It reminds me of the arguments in favor of teaching creationism in the name of open-mindedness."

"The conversation about liberal bias on campus is chock full of words such as diversity and pluralism. There is even the hint that universities may need a touch of affirmative action for conservative academics."

Oh, that is just a hoot Ms. Goodman. Let me usurp a few more bits of the "language" of liberalism. What about "feeling your pain?" What about your hatred for disenfranchisement? What about your love for group victimhood? What about "opening a dialogue?" I guess they all go out the window when the group in question is not of the progressives' approved victim list.

And speaking of "feeling your pain" and "opening a dialogue" Ms. Goodman, have you ever actually talked to any conservative college students who have had to deal with radical professors and/or activist administrators? There are many of them out there, you see. You even mentioned a group, although not by name, which has organized to fight the bullying of conservative students by leftist professors and administrators. That group is called Students For Academic Freedom and I am sure that they could put you in touch with hundreds, if not thousands of college students who would be more than happy to "open a dialogue" with such an esteemed columnist.

Maybe you could talk to Ahmad Al-Qloushi who is a student at Foothill College. It seems that Ahmad has had a rough time in his political science class:

"Political-Science Professor Joseph Woolcock tried to intimidate student Ahmad Al-Qloushi into seeing a therapist because of a Pro-American essay he wrote in Woolcock's class. The thesis of Al-Qloushi's essay is that the US constitution was a very progressive document, which has contributed to freedom beyond America's borders."

Or how about the 20 or so students at Connecticut College:

"A rally by College Republicans from Connecticut College in New London, CT was broken up Friday night by Campus Safety officers, who told them they had no permit. The students were rallying peacefully in front of the Olin Science Center, near the main entrance to the school. The students were showing their support for President Bush, and encouraging others to be excited about and supportive of the President. 'No one has ever needed a permit before,' said Bob French, a junior from New Hampshire and the Executive Director of the state-level College Republicans. According to the two Campus Safety officers who broke up the event, they had instructions from their superiors at the Office of Student Life to make sure it was disbanded."

Or how about these student journalists at Yale:

"The entire run of the November issue of the Yale Free Press, a conservative student publication, was stolen over the Thanksgiving break..." "Feygin and her staff said they were horrified at the theft of this month's issues, which Feygin said was particularly ironic as the issue addressed academic freedom at Yale."

Or how about these students from SFSU:

"...College Republicans at San Francisco State University, who were distributing Bush/Cheney campaign materials, were attacked by Palestinian and Arab students from the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS). A hostile mob gathered around the College Republicans’ table. Campus police arrived quickly but asked the Republicans to evacuate their table rather than protect them from their attackers."

"Up to 300 people from the GUPS, Muslim students on campus and radical leftist groups such as International ANSWER mounted a noisy demonstration in which death threats were made against two of the College Republicans."
"One might expect in such a situation that SFSU President Robert Corrigan and his administration would act quickly to protect the campus community in general and College Republicans in particular from such organized mayhem. But through his spokeswoman, Ellen Griffen, Corrigan chose instead to hold the College Republicans equally accountable..."

Once again, the list goes on ad infinitum. But I don't suppose you are interested in any of these students' points of view.

And in another deceptive little jab, Ms. Goodman proclaims:

"Want to talk real power? If the faculty clubs are blue, corporate management offices are red. In the name of diversity, let's trade some liberal sociologists for conservative oil executives."

Very snarky Ms. Goodman, and very erroneous. This study here is one among several (which are readily available if you are so inclined to read) that show that the Democrat Party receives its fair share of large corporate donations.
How about the large donations to the Kerry/Edwards Campaign by Time Warner, and Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup Inc.,and Microsoft Corp., and Skadden, Arps, and UBS Americas,and JP Morgan Chase & Co., and Morgan Stanley, and IBM Corp., and on and on and on...? Oh, and don't forget the large donations by the University of California, and Harvard, and Yale, and Stanford, and Columbia University. No chump change there.

But to bring this to a close, I must say that your column, Ms. Goodman, does give me some hope. You see, when a particular movement starts circling their wagons and sending out proxies to marginalize and deny a problem, that is a portentous indication that the opposing side is beginning to hit them where it counts!
UPDATE: In a post titled Surprise! New York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd Hates Christmas, EdWonk joins the battle in taking on the "progressobabe" columnists. One word of advice EdWonk: don't hold your breath waiting for that check!